Local recruitment agencies expect Bay employment opportunities to surge this year following the region registering the highest increase for skilled vacancies in December and more businesses hiring staff.

Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show the region had the biggest lift nationally up 20.6 per cent from November 2014.

The report said skilled vacancies grew across most industry groups including healthcare, medical, trades and construction.

Comvita chief corporate services officer Patrick Brus said it had experienced "massive growth" over the last decade which was predicted to continue.


Its staff pool was 520 but it employed 30 in 2014 and 35 in 2013.

"We are talking about new roles every year, not replacements. Our biggest challenge now is how do you deal with that growth."

It was "full stream ahead," Mr Brus said.

Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said it was recruiting 70, onshore and offshore staff over the next 12 to 18 months thanks to a 70 per cent increase in gold kiwifruit volumes.

The industry had lost people across the board who had gone on to do other things due to Psa so there were a number of technical roles to fill, he said.

"It's an exciting time ... less than 18 months ago most people had the impression that the kiwifruit industry might be doomed and today it is performing incredibly well."

Next month two graduates would also start on a new programme designed to foster talent, Mr Limmer said.

Another strong year was also forecast for the construction sector.

Classic Group director Peter Cooney said his confidence was high based on immigration numbers, low interest rates and good employment figures.

It would be seeking extra staff within three months.

However, the availability of affordable land and higher interest rates later in the year could become an issue, he said.

1st Call Recruitment general manager Angela Singleton said business had grown 80 per cent since 2013 and was predicted to double again this year.

The top players in the Bay were engineering and construction while mid-level to senior management were the most sought after, with an abundance of out-of-town applicants who wanted a lifestyle change, she said.

Wages still lagged behind "most major cities" and although that was a huge advantage for employers ... "to capture world class talent they need to pay market rates."

Personnel Resources Temp resources managing director Ian Chitty said recruitment vacancies had increased compared to the previous 12 months and income levels were lifting due to demand.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients permanently employs 250 people in the region and about 40 people were recruited into the Western Bay last year.

Chief executive Mark Wynne said he expected permanent employee numbers in the region to remain relatively static for 2015.

Fulton Hogan Bay of Plenty regional manager Gavin Riddle said the predictions looked good and that translated into "potential for us."

Kiwi Bus Builders managing director Richard Drummond said business was steady, it had hired 80 people in 2010 after securing a major contract that ended three years later but it had retained those staff.

"At the moment we have enough work to chug along but if a qualified coach builder approaches us for a job we will always make room and squeeze them in because those skills aren't around anymore."

Lifestyle bonus for professionals

The opportunity to enjoy Tauranga's lifestyle was a major drawcard for three qualified professionals who have taken up roles in the city.

CBC Construction business development manager David Baker was originally from Hamilton but said childhood holidays in the Bay cemented his love for the environment.
"There is never a boring weekend with so much on the back doorstep."

Watching new development projects evolve from inception to handover and working with great people were his main motivators, he said.

Classic Builders quantity surveyor Gary Bhandal started two weeks ago after working in Christchurch on earthquake damaged houses, pricing repairs and rebuilds.

Gaining new experiences, further developing his skills and meeting new people were on his priority list.

However, the region had already made an impression.

"I like the nice warm weather, beautiful sandy beaches and close proximity to other cities."
Classic Group ICT analyst Bryan Abbott moved his family from Auckland in 2008 to take up an opportunity and started his new job on December 1.

The community was extremely friendly and it was a fantastic place to raise a family.
He was looking forward to more pay, flexible hours and less stressful but more challenging work.

"The housing prices are reasonable, there is tons to do, very little traffic and employers are more family-friendly than what we had in Auckland."